Rebel leaders who recently split from the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) signed a historic peace agreement for western Jebel Marra with the Governor of Central Darfur, Jaafar Abdelhakam, on Sunday.
The peace signatories are prominent members of the SLM led by Abdelwahid El Nur who have only recently announced their defection. Mid El Amin Abdeljabbar El Tahir, known as Toro, was the movement's field commander in western Jebel Marra. Another signatory is a respected founder of the SLM-AW, Abu Jamal Khalil Bakr. Military spokesman Shihabeldin Ahmed Hagar also signed the peace deal with the state government.
In total, about 80 members of the holdout SLM-AW in Jebel Marra have signed the file in Central Darfur on Sunday. Negotiations lasted two days, just after the rebel leaders split from Abdelwahid El Nur.
State Governor Abdelhakam enjoyed the full authority of the Sudanese government when he put his signature on the agreement, of which the contents have not been disclosed. The agreement covers Korona area, south of Golo in western Jebel Marra. Korona is close to Surreng, which witnessed heavy clashes before the Sudanese army captured it from the rebels in April.
Mark of Korona, south of Golo in western Jebel Marra (Map by OCHA)
A celebration rally in Zalingei welcomed the defected rebel combatants on Sunday. The Governor addressed the crowd, affirming his complete commitment to implement the provisions and the outcomes of the Korona peace agreement.
Photos above obtained by Radio Dabanga
'Morale not affected'
In response, Abdelgader Abdelrahman Ibrahim, a commander of the SLM-AW, downplayed the step and described it as “a badly directed play”.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga he said: “The goal of this step is to cover significant corruption by the Sudanese military and politicians and the failure of the National Dialogue, and also to distract the rebel movement, the Sudanese people and the rest of the world from the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Darfur.”
He commented that a group of people who have been fed-up with the struggle and the fighting, and therefore joined the government's side, will not affect the morale of his rebel movement. “We have experienced such a position before.”
Commander El Amin Toro battled against the Sudanese army during its Jebel Marra offensive in 2016
Although the signatories do not represent the complete armed movement, Toro, Bakr, and Hagar were all active members of the SLM-AW. As field commander, Toro led the battles against the Sudanese army and militias during the military offensive in Jebel Marra early this year. Hagar was still active as a military spokesman for Abdelwahid El Nur in September.
Jebel Marra battles
In early January this year, the Sudanese government repeatedly attacked SLM-AW military sites in the Jebel Marra mountain range in Central Darfur. Both parties claimed victories. The fighting caused the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
OCHA reported that as of 31 October, nearly 87,000 Darfuris who were displaced this year have been recorded. Aid agencies have not been able to verify the reportedly more than 118,000 Darfuris who fled their homes this year. Most of the newly displaced in Darfur in 2016 come from Jebel Marra.
The SLM-AW again refrained from joining the three main Sudanese armed movements in their unilateral six-month cessation in the conflict areas, despite calls by the Unamid Joint Special Representative.
Reintegration of Darfur ex-rebels begins in El Fasher (16 May 2016)
19 JEM rebels surrender to authorities in South Darfur (10 March 2016)